March 23, 2019

Monomoy Girl joins Kentucky Oaks hopefuls in final moves

Monomoy Girl and jockey Florent Geroux breezed an in-company five furlongs in 1:01.60 at Churchill Downs on Saturday, April 28, 2018, ahead of the May 4 Kentucky Oaks (G1) (c) Churchill Downs/Coady Photography

Monomoy Girl breezed five furlongs in 1:01.60 under jockey Florent Geroux on the fast main track at Churchill Downs Saturday in her final major work ahead of the May 4 Kentucky Oaks (G1).

The Brad Cox trainee, a 5 1/2-length victress of the Ashland Stakes (G1) last out at Keeneland, worked in company with Secret House.

“She went really good,” said Geroux, who has piloted Monomoy Girl in all but one of her six lifetime starts. “She’s not even tired.”

Monomoy Girl is the likely morning-line favorite for the 144th running of the Kentucky Oaks, according to Churchill Downs’ odds maker Mike Battaglia.

“I’m sure I’ll get to be a little more nervous Friday when we’re leading over the favorite for the Oaks,” Cox said. “She continues to do well and I’m getting excited for Friday. The Oaks and (Kentucky) Derby (G1) exclusive training period is pretty cool for all of the fans and media to get a look at all of the horses on the track at once.”

The conditioner has two other runners in the Oaks – Sassy Sienna and Kelly’s Humor – and sent that duo out to work under the Twin Spires on Saturday as well.

Sassy Sienna breezed a half-mile in :49.20 with jockey Gary Stevens aboard while Kelly’s Humor clocked five furlongs in 1:02.20. The latter filly currently sits in 18th on the Kentucky Oaks Leaderboard and needs four defections to make the 14-filly field.

“She really progressed this winter in Arkansas,” Cox said of Sassy Sienna, who earned her shot at Oaks glory with a nose score in the Fantasy Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park last out. “We got her back to Churchill the other week and she continues to do well.”

Kelly’s Humor breezed five furlongs in 1:02.20 over Churchill Downs’ fast dirt on Saturday, April 28, 2018, ahead of a possible start in the May 4 Kentucky Oaks (G1) (c) Churchill Downs/Coady Photography

If Grade 2-placed stakes winner Kelly’s Humor doesn’t make the Oaks field, Cox indicated she’ll likely enter the Eight Belles Stakes (G2) on the Oaks undercard.

Once-beaten Sunland Park Oaks romper Blamed breezed a half-mile in :48.40 at Churchill Downs on Saturday for trainer Joel Marr during the 7:30-7:45 a.m. (ET) training window for Derby and Oaks horses.

The bay daughter of Blame galloped out five furlongs in 1:02.20 under jockey Robby Albarado after recording just her second move outside of New Mexico.

“I liked that we weren’t out there to go super fast,” Marr said. “She picked it up at every pole, finished up strong and galloped out really well on her own.”

Blamed is scheduled to walk Sunday, jog Monday and visit the track each day of Kentucky Derby week, possibly including Friday, the morning of the Kentucky Oaks.

“We’ll just see how she is acting and what she tells us to do,” said Marr, who is keeping regular rider Ken Tohill in the filly’s saddle for the Oaks.

Eskimo Kisses breezed five furlongs under jockey Corey Lanerie in 1:01.20 over Churchill Downs’ fast dirt on Saturday, April 28, 2018, for the May 4 Kentucky Oaks (c) Churchill Downs/Coady Photography

Eskimo Kisses breezed five furlongs in 1:01.20 on Saturday at Churchill ahead of next week’s Kentucky Oaks. The Kenny McPeek-trained chestnut enters the Run for the Lilies off a pair of runner-up efforts in the Ashland and Fair Grounds Oaks (G2).

Jockey Corey Lanerie guided the To Honor and Serve filly through splits of :12.60 and :37.80 on Saturday and a six-furlong gallop out in 1:15.20.

“She really took to the track well,” said Lanerie, who has the call on Eskimos Kisses for the Oaks. “I thought she may have regressed just slightly in the Ashland after she ran big in the (March 24) Fair Grounds Oaks. I think it was probably the best she’s felt since I’ve been on her.”

“We’re very happy with how she’s doing,” McPeek said. “It was a very nice work.”

Midnight Bisou, an easy winner of the Santa Anita Oaks (G1) most recently for trainer Bill Spawr, took a spin around the fast dirt at Santa Anita Park on Saturday to ready for the Kentucky Oaks.

The dark bay daughter of Midnight Lute clocked three-quarters in 1:13.80 under jockey Martin Pedroza around 4:30 a.m. (PT). Midnight Bisou recorded splits of :12.80, :25, :37.40, :49.20 and :1:01.20 before galloping out seven furlongs in 1:27.80.

“Martin knows her well and he does right by her,” said Spawr, who has tabbed Mike Smith to ride the filly in the Kentucky Oaks. “I wanted her to finish strong today and she did. I had her galloping out in twenty seven (1:27) and change, which is just what I wanted. She’s doing really well.”

Spawr added that Midnight Bisou is scheduled to ship to Kentucky on Monday, along with stablemate Skye Diamonds, who’ll run in the Humana Distaff (G1) on the Kentucky Derby undercard next Saturday.

U.A.E. Oaks (UAE-G3) heroine and Kentucky Oaks hopeful Rayya logged five-eighths in 1:01.80 at Santa Anita Park on Saturday for trainer Bob Baffert. The Tiz Wonderful filly, who was last seen running second to Kentucky Derby contender Mendelssohn in the U.A.E. Derby (UAE-G2), is set to ship to Churchill on Monday with the rest of Baffert’s Derby weekend stakes contenders.

In other Kentucky Oaks news, dual Grade 3-placed stakes winner Amy’s Challenge in on her way to Churchill Downs, according to trainer Mac Robertson. The Artie Schiller filly sits in 12th on the Kentucky Oaks Leaderboard but is not certain to run in the 1 1/8-mile affair.

“She just worked a few days ago and will not work at Churchill prior to the Oaks,” Robertson said, before adding about a possible start in the Oaks. “Right now we are keeping all of our options open before we commit.”

If she doesn’t line up in the Oaks, Amy’s Challenge could go in the Eight Belles on the undercard.

Martha Washington Stakes scorer Red Ruby, who is in 15th on the Oaks Leaderboard, would be the beneficiary if Amy’s Challenge bypasses on the Oaks, but trainer Kellyn Gorder said “it is very unlikely” that the gray daughter of Tiznow would run in the race.

Red Ruby galloped at Keeneland Saturday and may work Sunday, after which a final decision will be made.